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All Contents © 2019The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Dan Burrows, Contributing Writer
| July 19, 2018
It might not make you Daddy Warbucks anymore, but a million dollars still is a pretty exclusive level of wealth.
Only 5.8% of the country, or about 7.2 million households, qualify as actual millionaires. To reach that bar, you must have investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding the value of real estate, employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships.
When imagining where America’s millionaires live, most people probably think of California and New York. But although those states have their fair share of millionaires in terms of raw numbers, they don’t have the highest concentrations of rich households. It turns out there are numerous states with higher percentages of well-off households than New York or California, several of which probably will surprise you. And don't forget that between living costs and taxes, a million dollars goes much further in some states than others.
Here’s a look at the millionaire ratings for all 50 states (and the District of Columbia), based on the percentage of millionaire households in each. Just for good measure, we’re also providing the richest residents of each state, as well as important tax and cost-of-living information.
Estimates of millionaire households provided by Phoenix Marketing International, a firm that tracks the affluent market. Investable assets include education/custodial accounts, individually owned retirement accounts, stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, managed accounts, hedge funds, structured products, ETFs, cash accounts, annuities and cash value life insurance policies. Data on household incomes and home values are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Living costs are based on the Council for Community and Economic Research\'s Cost of Living Index. Tax information is as of 2017.
Millionaire households: 45,771
Total households: 1,134,578
Concentration of millionaires: 4.03%
Median income for all households: $40,528 (U.S. median: $55,322)
Median home value: $105,700 (U.S. median: $184,700)
Mississippi might have the lowest concentration of millionaire households per capita in the U.S., but it also has some of the lowest taxes. Indeed, it’s one of Kiplinger’s 10 most tax-friendly states in the U.S., thanks to relatively light property and gas taxes.
Mississippi also has the lowest overall cost of living in the U.S. It’s almost 19% cheaper to live in the Magnolia State vs. the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. That means a million bucks goes further than it does elsewhere. Just have a look at Tupelo and Hattiesburg, which rank among the cheapest cities in the U.S.
Not that that matters much to Mississippi’s richest citizens, James and Thomas Duff, whose diversified holding company gives them each a net worth of $1.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Millionaire households: 32,082
Total households: 763,797
Concentration of millionaires: 4.20%
Median income for all households: $42,644
Median home value: $107,400
West Virginia has a relatively low concentration of millionaires, but its richest citizen is one of its most prominent. Indeed, Jim Justice II, who made his $1.9 billion fortune in coal mining and agriculture, is the state’s governor.
The Mountain State’s median real estate taxes are among the lowest in the U.S., according to the Tax Foundation. Sales taxes are reasonable, too.
Another plus for West Virginia residents: The cost of living is 9.9% lower than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.
Millionaire households: 50,106
Total households: 1,178,438
Concentration of millionaires: 4.25%
Median income for all households: $42,336
Median home value: $114,700
Arkansas might not be bristling with millionaires, but it has some of the lowest living costs in the U.S., which are 15% below the national average. Heck, the Arkansas cities of Jonesboro and Conway are two of the least expensive places to live in the entire country.
When it comes to taxes, Arkansas is more of a mixed bag. Property taxes are low, but sales taxes are the second-highest in the country.
With Walmart (WMT) headquartered in Bentonville, it should come as no surprise that the richest person in Arkansas is a member of the Walton clan. Jim Walton – the youngest son of Sam Walton, who founded the world’s largest retailer – has a net worth of $40.3 billion.
Millionaire households: 79,205
Total households: 1,768,852
Concentration of millionaires: 4.48%
Median income for all households: $44,811
Median home value: $126,100
Kentucky has fewer than 80,000 millionaire households. But then, with a cost of living 12.3% below the national average, paychecks tend to go further. Groceries run about 10% below the U.S. average, while housing is roughly a fifth less expensive.
None of this presumably matters much to B. Wayne Hughes. With a net worth of $2.7 billion, the founder and chairman of Public Storage (PSA) is the Bluegrass State’s wealthiest individual.
The tax situation for all Kentucky residents is mixed. Sales taxes are modest and the property tax burden is light. However, effective income tax rates can be high even for relatively low earners.
Millionaire households: 88,880
Total households: 1,928,669
Concentration of millionaires: 4.61%
Median income for all households: $44,758
Median home value: $128,500
Alabama is another state where you don’t need a million bucks to live well. Although only 4.61% of its 1.9 million households hit the millionaire threshold, some of the lowest housing costs in the country help spread the wealth. Overall, the cost of living in the Yellowhammer State is 13.4% below the national average.
It also helps that Alabama is one of the more tax-friendly states. Property taxes are the second-lowest in the country, and the state allows you to deduct your federal income taxes, making it just one of a handful of states with this break.
Alabama’s wealthiest millionaire is Jimmy Rane. The founder and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving, which makes treated lumber products, has a net worth of $950 million, Forbes estimates.
Millionaire households: 122,585
Total households: 2,625,681
Concentration of millionaires: 4.67%
Median income for all households: $46,574
Median home value: $146,000
Tennessee is known for country music, BBQ and bourbon more than an abundance of millionaires, but the state should get more recognition for its affordability. Indeed, Memphis and Knoxville are two of the least expensive cities in the U.S., and more broadly, the state’s cost of living is 13.2% below the national average.
Tennesseans also tend to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. The Volunteer State has no broad-based income tax and is phasing out its tax on stock dividends and interest income.
With a fortune estimated at $9.7 billion, Thomas Frist Jr., co-founder of the company now known as HCA Healthcare (HCA), is Tennessee’s wealthiest resident.
Millionaire households: 30,110
Total households: 625,834
Concentration of millionaires: 4.81%
Median income for all households: $49,174
Median home value: $167,900
The vast expanse of the Gem State claims only 625,834 households, of which a bit more than 30,000 can be considered millionaires. A high concentration of them live in the part of the greater Jackson, Wyoming area that spills into Idaho.
Happily, for rich and not-so-rich alike, Idaho’s overall cost of living is 11.7% below the national average.
Somewhat less upbeat is Idaho’s tax picture, which is mixed. Although property taxes are low, sales tax is modest and the state has no inheritance tax or estate tax, its effective income tax rate is higher than even many Northeastern states.
Frank VanderSloot – founder of Melaleuca, a multi-level marketing company – is Idaho’s richest resident, with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.
Millionaire households: 94,675
Total households: 1,960,255
Concentration of millionaires: 4.83%
Median income for all households: $46,898
Median home value: $143,600
From Hilton Head Island to the Midlands region to the Blue Ridge Mountains, South Carolina has something for everyone – but you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy its many pleasures. Relatively low prices for housing and transportation help keep the Palmetto State’s cost of living under control. According to the Council for Economic Research, South Carolina is 7.1% cheaper than the national average.
Although South Carolina boasts the sixth-lowest property taxes in the country, many taxpayers find themselves in the highest income bracket. That’s because the top 7% rate kicks in at just $14,600 of income.
With a net worth of $2.5 billion, Anita Zucker, CEO of chemical company InterTech Group, is South Carolina’s wealthiest person.
Millionaire households: 88,371
Total households: 1,818,504
Concentration of millionaires: 4.86%
Median income for all households: $45,652
Median home value: $148,300
Agriculture, the petroleum industry, shipping and tourism are staples of the economy of Louisiana, helping to create almost 90,000 millionaire households.
The state’s richest resident, however, came into her fortune by way of car dealerships and banks. Gayle Benson, widow of Tom Benson, is worth an estimated $2.7 billion. She’s best known as the owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA.
Folks who call the Pelican State home enjoy a cost of living that 10.2% below the national average. They also benefit from the third-lowest property taxes in the U.S., Sales taxes, however, are relatively high.
Millionaire households: 196,094
Total households: 4,019,126
Concentration of millionaires: 4.88%
Median income for all households: $48,256
Median home value: $157,100
North Carolina has a lot going for it whether you’re a millionaire or not. It’s 11.7% less expensive to live in the Tar Heel State than the national average, and Durham is one of the happiest places to retire in the U.S., according to the according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.
Taxes are another matter. The average combined sales tax rate is 6.9% and in 2016 the state made a wide range of services, such as cable setup, clothing alterations and ammunition reloading, taxable.
James Goodnight, who co-founded privately held software developer SAS Institute, is the Tar Heel State’s wealthiest person. Forbes puts his net worth at $9.9 billion.
Millionaire households: 40,031
Total households: 810,609
Concentration of millionaires: 4.94%
Median income for all households: $45,674
Median home value: $161,600
Los Alamos, New Mexico, sounds like an unlikely place to find a lot of millionaires, but at 11.7%, it actually has the highest concentration of millionaire households of any small town in the U.S. That said, oil tycoon Mack Chase, New Mexico’s top millionaire with a fortune of $700 million, lives almost 300 miles south in Artesia.
Outside of Los Alamos, the state has a more typical concentration of affluence, with fewer than one in 20 households claiming investable assets of $1 million or more. That helps keep a lid on living costs, which are 7.2% below the U.S. average.
Unfortunately for residents of all means, the Land of Enchantment isn’t particularly tax-friendly – or a friendly state for retirement. Social Security benefits are subject to tax by the state, as are retirement account distributions and pension payouts.
Millionaire households: 21,953
Total households: 441,222
Concentration of millionaires: 4.98%
Median income for all households: $48,380
Median home value: $199,700
A good deal of Montana’s wealth stems from its abundance of natural resources. Indeed, copper mining partly helped make Dennis Washington, Montana’s richest citizen, amass a fortune worth $5.9 billion. And nearly 5%, or almost 22,000 households, can claim millionaire status.
The good news for citizens across the income spectrum is that the Treasure State has no general state sales tax. The bad news is that Montana taxes virtually all forms of retirement income, including Social Security. Whether you’re still working or a retiree, Big Sky Country isn’t a tax-friendly place to live.
A dollar does tend to go father there, however. Montana’s cost of living is 7.1% lower than the national average.
Millionaire households: 76,819
Total households: 1,543,599
Median income for all households: $48,038
Median home value: $121,300
You don’t need to be a millionaire to live well in the Sooner State. Not only does Oklahoma offer a cost of living that’s more than 13% below the national average, but its largest city offers remarkably affordable prices for its size.
Oklahoma City, a metro area with 1.4 million people, offers a lot of big-city attractions, from a philharmonic orchestra to the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. And yet it remains one of the cheapest large U.S. cities in which to live.
The energy industry is a cornerstone of Oklahoma’s wealth. After all, oil and gas helped its richest citizen, Harold Hamm, build a net worth of $19.5 billion. So it should come as no surprise that fuel taxes are low.
Less appealing? An income tax schedule that puts many people into the highest bracket.
Millionaire households: 128,600
Total households: 2,575,466
Concentration of millionaires: 4.99%
Median income for all households: $50,433
Median home value: $126,500
A million dollars ain’t what it used to be, but it sure goes far in some parts of Indiana. Richmond, Ind., where the cost of living runs 21% below the U.S. average, happens to be the cheapest small town in America. The cost of living in Indiana as a whole is 12.3% below the national average.
Medical device billionaire Carl Cook is Indiana’s wealthiest Hoosier, with a net worth of $8.2 billion. That puts him in another dimension from the rest of Indiana’s 128,600 millionaire households.
And although living costs are low, Indiana isn’t a great state for retirees. Household income is well-below average and the tax situation is disadvantageous. Most retirement income other than Social Security benefits is taxable at ordinary rates.
Millionaire households: 122,323
Total households: 2,439,229
Concentration of millionaires: 5.01%
Median income for all households: $49,593
Median home value: $141,200
More than 5% of Missouri’s households have at least $1 million in investable assets, but there’s nothing elite about that level when it comes to paying taxes. That’s because the Show Me State essentially lumps millionaires and non-millionaires together. Although Missouri has 10 income-tax brackets, all you have to make is $9,000 to reach the top rate of 6%.
Helpfully, the cost of living in Missouri is 14.3% lower than the national average. Housing is particularly affordable, running 27% below the rest of the U.S. In a notable downside for both retirees of all means: Missouri ranks 42nd in the nation for senior health.
At the very top of Missouri’s rich list stands Pauline MacMillan Keinath, believed to be the largest shareholder of privately held food company Cargill. Missouri’s wealthiest person has an estimated net worth of $7.2 billion.
Millionaire households: 17,772
Total households: 349,397
Concentration of millionaires: 5.09%
Median income for all households: $52,078
Median home value: $146,700
South Dakota is better known for Mount Rushmore, agriculture and the great outdoors than millionaires, but more than 1 in 20 households have at least $1 million in investable assets. It also happens to be a great place to retire.
Affordability is the main factor. The cost of living is 9.4% below the national average. It’s also one of the most tax-friendly states. And since South Dakota ranks third in the U.S. for fiscal soundness, according to a recent report from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, you can have high confidence that it can keep up with short-term expenses and long-term financial obligations.
The richest South Dakotan is T. Denny Sanford, who made his $2.5 billion fortune in the banking business.
Millionaire households: 56,452
Total households: 1,096,916
Concentration of millionaires: 5.15%
Median income for all households: $53,094
Median home value: $191,600
If you need proof that the house always wins, just take a look at Nevada. Median income for all households is slightly below the U.S. average. Meanwhile, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson – the state’s richest person – has a net worth of $42.8 billion.
But you don’t have to go to Las Vegas to rub elbows with the Silver State’s millionaires. Gardnerville Ranchos and Elko, Nevada, are among the top 20 small towns with the highest concentration of millionaires in the U.S.
The cost of living in Nevada is essentially on par with the national average, but residents catch a break on taxes. As a no-income-tax haven, Nevada is one of Kiplinger’s top 10 most tax-friendly states.
Millionaire households: 29,301
Total households: 565,293
Concentration of millionaires: 5.18%
Median income for all households: $50,826
Median home value: $176,000
Although author Stephen King may be Maine’s most famous millionaire, he’s not its richest. That honor goes to investor and philanthropist Susan Alfond, who has an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion. Alfond’s father founded Dexter Shoe Company, which he later sold to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B).
There are fewer than 30,000 millionaire households in Maine – a state in which rich and poor alike face relatively high living costs and taxes. Expenses in the Pine Tree State run 9.5% above the national average. Residents pay more for groceries, housing and utilities, in particular.
Maine also is one of the least tax-friendly states. Although it has been working to lower its income taxes, Maine’s lowest rate still is higher than some other states’ maximum rate.
Millionaire households: 243,118
Total households: 4,685,647
Concentration of millionaires: 5.19%
Median income for all households: $50,674
Median home value: $131,900
NBA superstar LeBron James might have forsaken the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers, but the great state of Ohio has plenty of other millionaires to fill his sizable shoes. Nearly a quarter of a million households – out of 4.7 million total – have at least $1 million in investable assets in the Buckeye State.
Although Ohio can’t compete with L.A. for glamour, LBJ may come to miss Ohio’s affordability and comparatively lighter tax bite. The cost of living in Ohio is 14% below the national average. (Los Angeles happens to be the ninth most expensive city in the U.S.)
And although Ohio isn’t exactly tax-friendly, no state goes after big earners quite like the Golden State.
For the record, with a fortune of $5.4 billion, L Brands (LB) founder, chairman and CEO Les Wexner is Ohio’s richest resident.
Millionaire households: 200,395
Total households: 3,854,460
Concentration of millionaires: 5.20%
Median income for all households: $51,037
Median home value: $152,400
With a cost of living 11.1% lower than the national average, a million dollars goes a bit further in the Peach State than elsewhere.
But taxes do take their bite. Although Georgia has modest property taxes, the state’s income tax is nearly a flat 6%, even for low-income singles. Sales taxes lean high, and in some areas, groceries will be taxed as well.
With a fortune of $9 billion, Jim Kennedy, chairman of privately held Cox Enterprises, is Georgia’s wealthiest resident.
Millionaire households: 427,824
Total households: 8,173,428
Concentration of millionaires: 5.23%
Median income for all households: $48,900
Median home value: $166,800
Florida’s popularity as a retirement destination helps boost its concentration of millionaires. Indeed, an hour’s drive north of Walt Disney World, you’ll find The Villages, a sprawling retirement haven with one of the highest number of millionaires per capita in the country.
The Sunshine State is well-known for its absence of a state income tax, which helps put it into Kiplinger’s top 10 most tax-friendly states. The cost of living is 3.6% below the national average.
With a net worth of $25.7 billion, Thomas Peterffy, founder, chairman and CEO of Interactive Brokers Group (IBKR), is Florida’s richest citizen.
Millionaire households: 137,359
Total households: 2,595,635
Concentration of millionaires: 5.29%
Median income for all households: $51,340
Median home value: $176,900
Like Florida, Arizona is a retirement haven and one of the tax-friendliest states in the U.S. for millionaires and non-millionaires alike. While the Grand Canyon State does have an income tax, the rates are notably low.
It’s not quite as inexpensive as Florida, however. The cost of living in Arizona is equal to the national average.
With a net worth of $3 billion, Mark Shoen, who owns roughly 20% of U-Haul parent company Amerco (UHAL), is Arizona’s wealthiest person.
Millionaire households: 210,957
Total households: 3,939,976
Concentration of millionaires: 5.35%
Median income for all households: $50,803
Median home value: $127,800
Michigan doesn’t have the highest concentration of millionaires in the country, but it is among the top states for billionaires. Quicken Loans founder Daniel Gilbert, worth $6.3 billion, is the wealthiest of “the Mitten’s” 11 billionaires, according to Forbes.
At the other end of the spectrum, Michigan is home to one of the least expensive places to live in the U.S. The cost of living in Kalamazoo is 20.5% below the U.S. average. Overall, Michigan is 14.1% cheaper than the national average.
Michigan’s tax situation is mixed. It’s one of just a handful of U.S. states with a flat tax – the rate is a modest 4.25%. But property taxes, particularly in Detroit, are steep.
Millionaire households: 127,260
Total households: 2,354,510
Concentration of millionaires: 5.40%
Median income for all households: $54,610
Median home value: $167,000
Bucolic Wisconsin’s 127,260 millionaire households enjoy a relatively affordable cost of living, but taxes in the Badger State can be a bit of a burden.
Wisconsin recently lowered income tax rates and reduced the number of brackets. But many residents of the Badger State will find themselves in the 6.27% bracket, which kicks in on income above only $22,230 for singles and $29,640 for joint filers. At the same time, property taxes are high. On the other hand, it’s 7.3% cheaper to live in Wisconsin than the country as a whole.
John Menard Jr., who founded a chain of home-improvement stores that bear his name, is the state’s richest resident, with a net worth of $10.5 billion.
Millionaire households: 62,168
Total households: 1,144,287
Concentration of millionaires: 5.43%
Median income for all households: $53,571
Median home value: $135,300
Kansas is known more for affordable living than it is for putting on the ritz. Indeed, Salina and Pittsburg, Kansas, are two of the cheapest small towns in America. Statewide, the cost of living in Kansas is 11.3% cheaper than the national average.
Offsetting that somewhat is the fact that Kansas is not the friendliest state when it comes to taxes. The state has an average combined sales-tax rate of 8.62%, for example. Sales tax rates apply to groceries as well.
Against that backdrop, the Sunflower State has 62,168 millionaire households out of a total of about 1.1 million households. The wealthiest by far is that of Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries, with a fortune of $51.5 billion.
Millionaire households: 41,348
Total households: 760,510
Concentration of millionaires: 5.44%
Median income for all households: $54,384
Median home value: $137,300
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is Nebraska’s richest – and most famous – resident. Duh. His net worth of $65 billion makes him one of the wealthiest people in the world. While Uncle Warren is clearly in a league if his own, the Cornhusker State does have 41,347 other households with at least a million bucks.
The cost of living in Nebraska is 10% lower than the national average, according to Council for Community and Economic Research.
When it comes to paying taxes, Nebraska is ranked as “not tax-friendly” by Kiplinger. Property taxes are the seventh-highest in the country, while the average combined sales tax rate comes to 6.89%, according to the Tax Foundation.
Millionaire households: 89,383
Total households: 1,639,493
Concentration of millionaires: 5.45%
Median income for all households: $53,270
Median home value: $247,200
Oregon lays claims to two billionaires and more than 89,000 millionaire households. Nike (NKE) founder Phil Knight is Oregon’s richest person with a net worth of $30.7 billion. Columbia Sportswear (COLM) CEO Timothy Boyle has a net worth of $2.2 billion.
The Beaver State’s cost of living is 4.1% higher than the U.S. average. That’s partly due to a median home value of more than $247,000, which is well above the national average.
Oregonians also face the country’s highest income tax bracket. The 9.9% rate is applied to taxable income over $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly) — and the lowest bracket is already 5%. Property taxes are on the high side, too.
Millionaire households: 71,212
Total households: 1,270,566
Concentration of millionaires: 5.60%
Median income for all households: $54,570
Median home value: $132,800
The farming and food-processing powerhouse of a state has a relatively low cost of living but it can be tough on residents wallets when it comes to paying taxes.
Iowa has a top tax bracket of almost 9% and brings it to bear on a relatively low level of taxable income, giving the Hawkeye State an income tax bite that exceeds many East Coast states. Easing the sting a bit is a cost-of-living index that’s 11.9% lower than the U.S. average.
Harry Stine, founder of seed genetics company Stine Seed, is the state’s richest person, with a fortune estimated at $3.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Millionaire households: 566,578
Total households: 10,005,417
Concentration of millionaires: 5.66%
Median income for all households: $54,727
Median home value: $142,700
Everything is bigger in Texas. No, it doesn’t have the highest concentration of millionaires, but in terms of raw numbers, only California has more than the Lone Star State’s 566,578 millionaire households.
Heck, Texas is so big it not only has two of the smallest towns with the most millionaires in the U.S. – Andrews and Fredericksburg – but it’s also home to four of the 10 cheapest U.S. in which to live. (Those would be Brownsville, Wichita Falls, Harlingen and McAllen.) On average, the cost of living in Texas is 8.7% lower than the U.S. average.
Texas is a place of extremes when it comes to taxes, too. There’s no income tax at all, but sales taxes run high, as do property taxes.
Walmart heiress Alice Walton, with a net worth of $40 billion, is the richest Texan – and the richest woman in the world.
Millionaire households: 294,002
Total households: 5,099,166
Concentration of millionaires: 5.77%
Median income for all households: $54,895
Median home value: $167,700
Almost 5.8% of Pennsylvania’s 5 million-plus households have investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding the value of real estate, employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships. That puts the state’s concentration of millionaires on par with the national average, even as the cost of living in the Keystone State is 1.1% lower than the U.S. average.
The Keystone State has a flat income tax rate of 3.07%, but property taxes can be steep in some communities. There’s a 6% sales tax, but food, clothing, textbooks, heating fuels, and prescription and nonprescription drugs are exempt.